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29th Nov 07
A group of American teenagers arrive in Ireland to meet their mushroom expert mate Jake for the 'trip' of their life. However, things soon go horribly wrong when the teenagers suffer horrific visions of ghostly creatures.
Kids, don’t do drugs they are bad for you. Nancy Reagan, Zammo MacGuire, Amy Whitehouse, Sherlock Holmes are all testaments to it and I should know, as in my younger days I was once found in the back of a wardrobe desperately trying to find Narnia…
Shrooms is written by Pearce Elliott and directed by Paddy Breathnach (Man About Dog) and the premise of the story is based around five American students going to Northern Ireland to catch up with their tripping buddy from college to take some of the best hallucinogens known to man for the trip of their life time out in the woods. Sounds like something might brew up and yes it does….
The motley crew that make up the main characters are Tara (Lindsey Haun) an all American lass, Troy (Max Kasch) a hippy wannabe marshal arts dude, Holly (Alice Greczyn) Troy’s unshaven armpitted hippy girlfriend, Blutto (Rob Hoffman) the Jock (there’s always one – why?!) and his glam bird Lisa (Maya Hazen). Finally there’s Jake (Jake Huston) the cool man behind their jaunt to Northern Ireland. They’re the protagonists, and yeah, it does sound like your average group for any teen horror, but what the heck, it’s always a quality formula and one that works. You pays your money, you gets your ride, and this is a good little ride too.
Once our merry little band of trippers ump into their domain of doom, we are treated to some stunning shots of the Northern Irish countryside. Nanu Segal (Director of Photography) should be congratulated on her work throughout. The sense of foreboding starts to build, the narrow tracks through the woodland, the first encounter with the locals, pays homage to Deliverance and Southern Comfort, which is done with respect and in my opinion works well. We’re even treated with the nugget that dogging doesn’t exist in the US and such behaviour is politely explained by Jake. Surprisingly Blutto seems all up for the idea…
Our group then set up camp and go hunting for mushies. Tara picks the wrong shroom and gets into tripping trouble, but thankfully the gang is on hand to help out and the group finally settle down for a bit of tea by the camp fire to hear the story of the local orphanage and the Dark Brother (why couldn’t they camp by a decent orphanage, like the one in The Cider House Rules?!). Then as the shrooms kick in, so does that unnerving paranoia. Anyone who’s been there will know the sensations and those who haven’t will get a great impression of that peripheral vision oddities that can happen when you are on one. It’s worth pointing out that at this point some good old Asian horror tricks are used and used with impressive effect.
The tale now takes off into individual and group paranoia, strange things happening, the disintegration of the gang, the folly of dogging and the Dark Brother coming for them, all with minimal use of CGI (I did like the cow scene). The pace rarely drops off, as there is a descent into the twisted head mash up that is tripping.
So what do we have? Reefer Madness meets Jason and a hint of Cabin Fever? Yes, kind of, it’s all executed in a decent fashion, however it plays far too much to the formula and although a good trip with some twists along the way, I still came away with the sensation that it could have been just that bit better. Lindsey Haun plays a good lead, the camera work was appreciated and it is worth a watch, the shocks are all in the right place, it’s just too generic to stand out as a must see.
So, if Shrooms was a potential drug, where would I put it on a sliding scale? Smoking orange peel? No. DF118? No. Strangely enough, I’d have to rate it as…. Mushrooms, it’s a jolly good trip, but I’m not going to shout about it at day break from the roof of my house. Er no, cos that was the micro-dots I’d taken on that occasion but that’s another story…